Fox-Smartmatic defamation lawsuit: What to know

People walk to the News Corporation headquarters of Fox News on April 18, 2023 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Good pictures

Fox Corp. And its television networks agreed this week to pay $787.5 million to settle a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems, but the media giant’s legal headaches don’t end there.

Even more balanced is voting software company Smartmatic USA Defamation suitIt is seeking $2.7 billion in damages — $1 billion more than Dominion initially sought in its lawsuit.

Smartmatic, like Dominion, sued Fox for defamation for spreading false claims that its voting software helped rig the 2020 election that saw Joe Biden beat Donald Trump. Smart dress And especially the names Host Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Brough and former host Lou Dobbs.

Not only did Fox and its hosts report the statements made by Trump and his associates at the time, but the network said Dobbs, Pirro and Bartiromo “actively endorsed and participated in the statements with reckless indifference, or serious doubt as to the veracity of the claims being made on air.”

Dobbs’ weekday show on Fox Business Network was canceled shortly after he was named as a defendant in the Smartmatic lawsuit. Fox said it was in the process of canceling the show before the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the network and its hosts “deliberately avoided publicly available knowledge” in the weeks leading up to the election that Smartmatic’s software was used to falsify and Dominion’s machines were used to alter votes.

Although Smartmatic’s lawsuit was filed just ahead of Dominion in 2021, the pace of the lawsuit lags behind in comparison. It’s unclear how or if the settlement between Fox and Dominion will affect the Smartmatic case.

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“Dominion’s lawsuit exposed some of the misconduct and damages caused by Fox’s misinformation campaign,” Smartmatic attorney Eric Connolly said in a statement Tuesday after the Dominion settlement was announced. “Smartmatic will expose others. Smartmatic is determined to clear its name, reverse the substantial damage done to the company, and hold Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”

“We will be ready to defend this case surrounding the most newsworthy events when it goes to trial in 2025,” a Fox spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday.

Fox also miscalls the amount of the damage claim. “According to a report prepared by our financial expert, Smartmatic’s claims for damages are implausible, disconnected from reality and on their face intended to chill First Amendment freedoms.”

Smartmatic did not immediately provide an updated statement on Wednesday.

‘Same source, same facts’

The cases have recently overlapped.

Last week, Smartmatic filed a motion in New York’s Supreme Court seeking to compel Fox to “reproduce all relevant documents and depositions from the Dominion proceedings.” The Delaware judge handling Dominion’s case allowed Fox News to make its way through the filing. For withholding evidence.

Smartmatic said Fox was ordered in September 2022 to reproduce all relevant documents and depositions from Dominion for its own defamation suit, according to court documents. “Those cases set the foundation for Fox News and Fox Corporation’s discovery obligations here,” Smartmatic said in court documents, calling Dominion a benchmark for its case.

The company asked a New York judge to let Fox go in this case as well.

“I think the conclusion is let’s just pay it off, and I think they’re going to use the same strategy in the Smartmatic case. It’s all the same finding, the same evidence, the same facts Dominion,” said Imran Faruqi. Assistant Professor at SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

Fox filed court documents this week denying Smartmatic’s allegations.

Both Dominion and Fox urged the judge overseeing their case to issue a ruling and avoid a trial, with Judge Eric Davis saying the case should be decided in a courtroom. However, Davis pointed to reports of election fraud, including that Dominion manipulated vote counts, was set up to rig elections on behalf of the late dictator Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and that it paid kickbacks to government officials who used the machines. The election will be scandalous.

In the weeks following the election, Fox hosts had pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani as guests, who repeated such claims. Both Smartmatic and Dominion were called by name in most situations. Davis stopped short of ruling that Fox acted with malice.

Hooton Yacoubzadeh, co-founder of Dominion’s private equity backer Staple Street Capital, told CNBC on Wednesday that Dominion “doesn’t want to settle until we know the information … and see the light of day.” The company also wanted summary judgment to see what the court’s ruling would be.

In both cases, Fox has argued that it is protected by the First Amendment.

On Tuesday, when the Dominion settlement was announced, Fox News Media said in a statement that it acknowledged “the court’s rulings that found certain claims about Dominion to be false.” “This settlement reflects Fox’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We believe our decision to amicably resolve this dispute with Dominion, rather than a divisive investigation, will allow the country to move forward from these issues.”

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